Daily Devotion 16th December 2018

Psalm 77: 1-12

I cried aloud to God for help;
I prayed that God would hear.
When I was plunged in deep distress,
I sought the Lord in prayer.

At night I stretched untiring hands,
relief my soul refused.
Rememb’ring you, O God, I groaned
with longing as I mused.

In my distress I could not speak;
from sleep you kept my eye.
I thought about the former days,
the years which have gone by.

Throughout the watches of the night
my songs I called to mind.
I pondered deeply, while my heart
an answer tried to find:

“For ever will the Lord reject
and never show his grace?
Has he withdrawn his steadfast love
and turned from me his face?

“For all time has his promise failed?
Is God no longer kind?
Has he in his great wrath dismissed
compassion from his mind?”

Then to my heart there came this thought:
“On this I will rely—
The years of the right hand of power
of him who is Most High.”

I will recall the LORD’s great deeds—
your works of long ago.
I’ll meditate on all your acts;
your mighty deeds I’ll show.


The editors of Sing Psalms suggest this is set to the haunting tune St Columba.  You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this here.
 
Reflection
One of the things I like about the Psalms is that the Psalmists don’t hesitate to tell God exactly how they are feeling; there’s no British understatement or feeling that a sentiment is ‘inappropriate’ to address to God.  This Psalm is one of a group that reflects on Israel’s history and relationship with God, and may have been written before the exile to Babylon. At its heart is the question expressed in the sixth stanza above – has the God who brought the Israelites safely through the Red Sea now abandoned them?

The Psalmist finds comfort in looking backwards – recalling God’s great deeds in the past, and committing to meditate on them.  Perhaps that sometimes helps us – if I’ve bodged something at work, it can help me to remember that actually things do go well most of the time – and sometimes they even go very well – and not to catastrophize just because I’ve had a bad day. But at other times do we begin to suspect that, as the financial adverts tend to say. “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”?

In this Psalm, we hear feelings of being alone, without hope and without God being expressed and honoured, not dismissed, or dispatched with an instruction to pull oneself together.  Psalmists find their way through the dark night, but what is our way? And how do we accompany others as they journey through such times? Perhaps the first step is to recognise that God already knows the depths to which we may feel we have sunk, and that there is no shame in telling God how we feel.  And then may we pray that God works through us and our neighbours to bring comfort and hope.

Prayer

Lord,
When we spend a troubled night
tossing and turning
worrying and fearing
bring peace.

When we fear the day to come
alone and exposed
uncertain and afraid
bring comfort.

When our neighbour is in distress
open our eyes
unfreeze our hearts
inspire us to travel together.

Amen.

Today’s Writer

Gordon Woods, Elder, St. Columba’s URC, Oxford.

Bible Version

 

Sing Psalms! © Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS
Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.
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